By Natalie Williams •
Published: 24 Nov 2021 • 23:56
A covid-19 super variant could be worse than Delta Image: Pixabay
A new Covid-19 super variant with an “extremely high number of mutations is possibly the most evolved strain of the virus and could be worse than the Delta variant, what is worse, it could escape existing vaccines”, scientists have warned.
The B.1.1.529 variant, a mutation of an older variant called B.1.1, has 32 spike mutations and has been found in Botswana, South Africa, and Hong Kong.
It seems that we are witnessing the birth of this new covid-19 super variant as only 10 cases have been detected so far. However, the ten cases have not been isolated to one particular country, which leads experts to believe that this could be something of major impact.
The case identified in Hong Kong came from an individual who had recently travelled from South Africa, igniting dread that more infections could have spread through international travel.
The high number of mutations in the new variant has caused concern among the scientific community, because a number of the mutations may help the virus evade immunity.
In a tweet by Dr. Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College he described the covid-19 super variant’s combination of mutations as “horrific”.
Describing the new strain’s mutation profile as “really awful”, he added that it had the potential to be “worse than nearly anything else about”, including the now-dominant Delta strain, which has 16 spike mutations.
New coronavirus variants are identified all the time and often will not spread beyond a handful of cases.
There are currently no cases of the B.1.1.529 variant in the UK but officials and scientists at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said they were monitoring and investigating the variant.
Dr. Meera Chand, Covid-19 Incident Director at UKHSA, said: “The UK Health Security Agency, in partnership with scientific bodies across the globe, is constantly monitoring the status of SARS-CoV-2 variants as they emerge and develop worldwide”.
“As it is like viruses to mutate often and at random, it is not unusual for small numbers of cases to arise featuring new sets of mutations. Any variants showing evidence of spread are rapidly assessed.”
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